Young, impatient
and soon to be in charge

Natalie Baturina (11) from Russia is concerned about aquatic animals. She regularly conducts surveys to investigate their survival – making clay sculptures of the animals she finds which she gives to friends with notes on the species.

Ashli Fox (12) from the Bahamas has been involved in a project since 1995. She plans to design a comic book to make other children aware of the danger of pollution.

Natalie and Ashli were among the 700 young people from 111 countries who attended the Millennium International Children’s Conference on the Environment in Eastbourne, England, 22-24 May 2000. The 10 to 12-year-olds discussed such environmental issues as water, the city environment and ‘sharing our planet’.

At the end of the Conference, the children made pledges and issued challenges, and sent representatives to the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Malmö, Sweden to present the following declaration...

‘...We are not yet Ministers and Government officials or experts, but we know a lot about environmental problems, we care for our environment and are pleased that you will listen to us. One day we will be in charge. In the meantime, we are doing our best. We are young, impatient and we are all the time learning, but we have determination and hope.

While many of you here have forgotten how it is to be young and are thinking in short terms, perhaps to win the next elections, we seriously have to think about our future.

At our Millennium Conference, we made friends from all over the world and pledges committing ourselves to doing more for the environment.

As you will hear, our lives depend on more than money and power. We would also like you to use your hearts to share and care.

We also know that we must play our part. We therefore have made the following pledges:

1. To join other children to make stronger environmental groups, and promote environmental awareness and actions in our communities.

2. To have our voice heard by governments and by the United Nations.

3. To learn more about water-related issues, such as waterborne diseases, and to save and re-use water.

4. To help keep the world clean and rubbish free.

5. To ask for better recycling facilities and alternatives to fossil fuels from our governments.

6. We will also refuse to use plastic bags, but carry our environment-friendly bags when shopping.

The children from the 111 countries represented at the Conference have put together some challenges for you. These are the most important ones:

1. Enforce environmental laws, especially those concerning water and pollution.

2. Provide clean water to all within the next ten years.

3. Make recycling fun and provide more recycling bins.

4. Find environment-friendly alternatives to plastic bags by the year 2004.

5. Promote the use of clean energy.

Before we end and say thank you for listening, we ask you in the future to listen more to your children and grandchildren. Children are not stupid. Remember we are in many ways closer to the ground. We also like to hear from you and learn from you. Please involve us more in your work and please respond to our challenges.’

PHOTOGRAPH: Narit Tolertmongkol/UNEP/Still Pictures

Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | The right to diversity | Gain, not pain | Changing course | From summit to summit | Empowering the poor | The environment millennium | Focus On Your World | Competition | A critical priority | Flashing indicators | Sea changes | No wires attached | Now for vigorous action | Malmö Ministerial Declaration | Young, impatient and soon to be in charge | Green spot in Africa